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Many Different Kinds of People are Obsessed with Railways in Japan.

Many Different Kinds of People are Obsessed with Railways in Japan.

It is truly surprising just how many different kinds of people obsessed with railways there are in Japan.

If you’re traveling in Japan, a railway trip is something I am sure you would enjoy.

Japanese railways are famous worldwide for being on time, so much so that an apology is broadcast if a train is just two minutes late. But this almost neurotic degree of precision is not the only reason they’re famous.

If you take a ride on local lines that use trains with just two carriages, you will pass beautiful beaches, mountains, and tranquil countryside. You will surely encounter the kind of Japanese scenery to be found in Ghibli films.

A scene from “Spirited Away”.©STUDIO GHIBLI Inc.
Even in Kamakura, close to Tokyo, you can take a local train that runs along the seaside.

In Japan, trains run far and wide across the entire country, and there are “train nerds” in abundance to go with them: enthusiasts who, for their sheer variety, can hardly be compared to their to their fellow train enthusiasts around the world.

There are people that just love riding trains, those that love taking photos of them, those that simply enjoy listening to their different chimes and whistles, those that research the interiors, exteriors, and equipment of the carriages, those that love to collect tickets and railways merchandise, those that enjoy researching their timetables, those that love the special lunchboxes on sale at major stations across the country, and more.

There are many Train nerd who visit railway stations that are little used and isolated. Mikawa-Makihara Station on the Iida Line, which has many unexplored stations.

There is a name for each and every one of these types of obsessions, from Toritetsu (people that love taking photos of trains), to Noritetsu (people that love riding trains). In recent times, young female fashion models and teen icons have confessed to being train nerds, and the idea that railways are only a hobby for men has changed.

In the inner-city area, there is more often a prevailing perception of trains as mere modes of transport to carry the tired population to work and back home each day. But in more rural areas, you will find people obsessed with railways, enjoying their journeys with their camera and train timetable in hand.

Buying some beer and a lunchbox at the station, and gazing out of the window while enjoying your meal, is nothing short of paradise.

 

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In fact, railway companies in Japan do not simply seek to provide a mere means of transport. Instead, they set out to create an all-around railway experience every day.

Each railway company has tried out various unique selling points: including a sake sommelier on a local train, creating an almost bar-like atmosphere, and a special Shinkansen with the concept of a “moving modern art museum”.

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One railway company hired a world famous architect and winner of The Pritzker Architecture Prize to design the interiors of their carriages. Another found a Michelin-starred chef to design its menus. There is never a shortage of railway-related topics to talk about.


Just why are there so many different types of train nerds here in Japan? How about taking a train trip in Japan and finding out for yourself?

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